Tenoo li ahuzat kever…
Sell me a burial site…
The “leitwort,” the pivoyal word repeated in twelve different forms in the course of the first chapter is that connected with burial, kavor. Abraham has lost his wife Sarah; he needs to bury her, and acquires a family burial plot in the land of Canaan where his family will bury their dead in perpetuity.This act is followed by a resumption of living as he directs his servant to seek out a proper mate for his son Isaac.Abraham in old age then proceeds to remarry and bear more children.
Yesterday, during Shabbat services at Romemu, Rabbi David Ingber invited the congregation to pair off with another worshipper and engage in an exchange around the question: What do you need to bury before you can proceed with your own life?
It was a powerful exercise that made conscious many of the obstacles that stand in the way of our personal growth and forward spiritual movement. I considered this personal and intimate application of what appears to be a formal transaction in the Torah as a brilliant exegesis of Torah’s everyday wisdom. This gift of being able to translate an ancient text into a contemporary and living document for enhancing our lives is one with which Rabbi David is blessed and for which I am deeply grateful.
In contemplating the act of burial as a “de-cathexis” it occurred to me that the root of the word to bury –kvr- also spells a totally opposite word that suggests the very opposite of burial and finality.
If the letters are rearranged, we have a new word-vkr- morning, three letters that also constitute the name of Isaac’s wife, (R)i(vk)ah. That is, for a new beginning to emerge in our lives it is imperative that we let go, we bury certain things of our past and honor them for what they were and go on with our lives. The past is important and must be recognized and honored, but only in the service of today and tomorrow.
I am grateful to Rabbi David for providing me with the spaciousness and creative opening to further interpret his words and those of the Torah.